Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story
directed by Todd Haynes
(Iced Tea, 1987)

I had long heard about this movie and was intrigued, but I never thought I'd have an opportunity to see it. But I did, on screen and with an audience, outdoors in Prague in the late 1990s (twin billed with Todd Browning's Freaks, believe it or not). Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, according to the Internet Movie Database, "has been out of legal circulation since 1990, subject to a cease and desist order pertaining to unauthorized use of the Carpenters' music," and "is illegal to sell, or distribute."


I'm not sure the Czechs in the audience "got" it (they liked Freaks, though), but I thought it was moving. I had expected it to be John Waters-ish. Not so. The Barbie gimmick -- dolls instead of actors -- really works.

I just wonder what thought process went through director Todd Haynes' mind to think this up. "A movie about Karen Carpenter. Using Barbie Dolls. Hmmm." The man's an artist. I've known ever since seeing Safe.

review by
Dave Sturm

26 September 2009

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